On Saturday February 28th, 2015 Muslim Family Services (MFS), a Division of ICNA Relief USA Programs offered a day-long workshop entitled “Blissful Marriage A to Z” that gave tips on developing ‘bliss’ in marriage and making it last. The workshop was developed and led by renowned authors Drs. Ekram & Mohammed Rida Beshir. This husband and wife team are the authors of “Blissful Marriage: A Practical Islamic Guide” and many other books relating to the Muslim household. The workshop ran from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm.
Some of the attendees
The event was held at the Muslim Community of the Western Suburbs (MCWS) in Canton, Michigan. With approximately 100 guests, primarily made up of couples sitting side by side, the scene was perfect for an interactive marriage workshop. The duo opened up with their 1st session that asked the question, when is a person ready to get married? Many of us feel that we are ready for marriage when we have free time, land a high-paying job or reach a certain age. However, the authors stated that in Islam, an individual is ready to get married when they have reached sexual maturity and have some means to support a spouse, even if those means are little.
The hadith by our beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh) states that
“… from Ibn Mas‘ood, who said: We were with the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), young men who had nothing of wealth. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said to us: “O young men, whoever among you can afford it, let him get married, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and guarding one’s chastity. And whoever cannot afford it should fast, for it will be a shield for him.” (Bukhari, 5066)
Dr. Mohammed Beshir advised the guest that if they know someone else trying hard to get married who does not have the means, to help facilitate marriage for them because it inshAllah will be counted as helping them with half of their faith. It was also mentioned that a person should have good character and a keen idea about how respect and collaboration should work whilst seeking a spouse. Other proofs that one is ready for marriage are: understanding the nature and objectives of marriage, having clear knowledge of gender and spousal relations in Islam, understanding the Qur’anic rule of communication, knowing how to resolve conflicts in an Islamic way and understanding what Qawamah(family leadership obligations) means and its implications in family life.
The majority of the tips given in this workshop related to respect, understanding, compassion, kindness, sincerity, affection and iman (faith). For an individual to have a healthy marriage, they must develop the purest form of all of these characteristics. Even in our disagreements, a Muslim should remember Allah (swt) and consider their spouses feelings. It is so easy to point the finger and avoid the blame. However, to be in an honest relationship, one must be well, honest. This means that 50% of the time, the argument is due to something that you did; you spouse is not always the root cause.
Authors Drs. Ekram & Mohammed Rida Beshir
The authors mentioned that divorce is the most hated permitted act in Islam by Allah (swt). It tears apart families and tribes leaving emotional wounds on parent and child alike. Divorce should be the last resort to solving marital problems; one should never use it as a threat. It is advised that the Muslim exhaust all means before concluding on divorce except in the case of deep physical and mental abuse at the hands of a spouse. Islam does not support oppression of any kind.
The guest were broken down into six groups and given three case studies to tackle; with two groups doing cross-comparisons of their case studies. These studies allowed couples to exercise their judgment about the inappropriate and appropriate ways to handle spousal conflict. There was a case in which a husband had been trying to call his wife all day and kept getting her voice mail. As the hours passed, he grew increasingly worried about her well-being. The wife, had been with her good Muslim friends all day and was having so much fun that she lost track of time. Not having realized that her phone battery went dead, she returned home. Her husband, extremely upset, expressed his panic over her being missing. When she explained that her phone battery went dead and that she was simply at a friend’s house; he asked that she ask him before day-long visits with friends. She felt that he was being too controlling. The groups were asked to dissect the scenario and point out the faults and offer solutions.
Both groups agreed that the wife was irresponsible due to her heedlessness about her phone battery being dead. They noted that it is important that all phone owners keep their phones charged in case of emergency and in order to check in with their spouse. They could understand why the husband grew panicky when unable to reach his wife after several attempts; noting that his emotion was out of pure concern for his wife’s well-being. It was suggested that instead of making his wife ask to go visit a friend, he could have asked that she inform him instead so that the couple knows the whereabouts of their spouse out of courtesy.
The workshop ended with advice to all married couples and those wanting to get married. It is important not to ‘idealize’ your spouse; by doing so, you are putting them on an unrealistic pedestal of perfection that they will never meet. Getting angry makes it difficult to resolve issues according to Islamic guidelines. So, avoid getting angry by sitting down like the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised. Build your family on love and mercy. Learn how to forgive and forget. Take initiative in your home and do not expect your spouse to do everything for you. Lastly, practice patience. InshAllah with this advice all of us will have blissful marriages.
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